I’ll Lay You Down In the Florida Sunshine, If You Promise That You Will

I’ve never subscribed to the “love it or leave it” way of thinking when it comes to matters of country, government, society and the like. I’m more of an “if you love it but are not entirely thrilled with the way things are or the direction it is headed, than use whatever powers you have and try to change it for the better” type of girl. That’s not exactly poster board friendly, though, and it’s certainly not a great chant.

I am, though, starting to feel a tingling of indignation towards these weather haters I keep encountering! We had a cool front move through here in Tampa this past weekend – which, for your northerners, means is was clear, sunny and in the 60’s during the day – and I kept hearing “Oh, wouldn’t it be great if it was like this all the time.” Finally, when it wasn’t eavesdropping and this comment was actually directed towards me I said, “No! It would NOT be! This is Florida! I LIKE that it is in the 90’s during the summer! I LIKE thunderstorms and lightning! I can’t WAIT until summer is here again and the mosquitoes are as big as bats. I LOOOOooooove knowing, when I step out to my car in the morning, that my glasses are going to fog up!”

My rant was probably longer than that in real life. I tend to go off on embarrassingly long tirades like that.

The truth is – of course I enjoy days like that. I think it’s nice … for a change. I also (believe it or not, Midwesterners) enjoy the predictability of the unrelenting heat. I happen to love knowing that I can wear tank tops and flip flops for 10 months of the year. I don’t mind sweating if I decide I wish to spend the day outdoors. Sure, there are activities where the heat isn’t the most enticing thing (RayJay in the early part of the football season) but I’ve found I’m so conditioned that I can’t go into a pool or to the beach if it’s below 82F and I’m freezing if it’s below 78 in my house. There are those of us that truly enjoy this part of the Florida climate.

My favorite television meteorologist, Howard Shapiro, with his endless need to educate viewers, informed me yesterday that Tampa saw 108 days in the year 2007 where we topped 90F. That’s a major portion of the year! Certainly more truly hot days than most areas north of us will ever see.

And, yes, we KNOW it gets just as hot where you come from, too. Not for that length of time, though, Yankee. You don’t win some imaginary prize for that, though, and guess what – it doesn’t snow here. EVER! Well, at least not since 1977 and for me that’s ever and then some. I WIN!

So, finally, here comes my point. No matter how much you say you love it here, those hot days are a huge part of what we are and no power you have is going to alter this. In fact, over the next several hundred years, it may just be getting hotter. You do have a choice here, folks. You even have a choice where you can still tell people that you live in the great state of Florida – although, we tend to call that lower Alabama. So – change what you can in the name of love. Change elected officials, change laws, change outdated ways of thinking, change religion and change your underwear several times a day during the Florida summer – but you can’t change the weather. Buy some sun block and one of those goofy misting fan spray bottle deals and meet me at Picnic Island or Simmons Park this August so we can embrace the Tampa sunshine. Early, though, those damn thunderstorms start just after noon.

For Good or For Awesome

I love spectacle. What good theatre kid doesn’t? I’m (of course) especially fond of all aspects of the in-arena experience at a sporting event. Actually – I like most things that happen in an arena. So if you’re like me and you love anything from concerts to fireworks shows to public executions (OK, I’m reaching on that last one – but you get the drift) than WWE Monday Night Raw could be for you.

In fact, I’m watching Raw as I type. Without giving away too much about the intricate storyline or delicate partnerships, I’m going to give a quick rundown of what I’m seeing as well as reasons why you should check out WWE Monday Night Raw. I bet you’ll see that you had no idea how well put together this whole rasslin’ thing was!

1. The guy who runs the show is BFI (at least his character is) and that always leads to fun and entertaining situations.

2. Wrestler stare-downs. You’ll have to watch to see what I’m talking about but it’s worth it. Each character, I mean, wrestler, has a signature stare. That’s not something you learn in theatre school – I promise you that!

3. A bunch of pretty decent looking ladies just put on lingerie and fought each other on a bed dressed in satin and covered in pillows.

4. Two wrestlers just dressed as each other for a match – wigs and all – and one of them was offended by the characterization of him by the other. They then proceeded to kick the crap out of one another.

5. A guy just rode up to the ring in a LIMO! He can’t WALK? He’s about to freakin’ wrestle!

6. Chris Jericho is again growing a beard of some sort it seems. If you know me than you know I love facial hair! What? You don’t consider that a reason to watch?

7. A midget just beat a pair of huge dudes dressed in kilts with the help of a guy that wears a sock on his hand to deliver his signature move. This little-person is also, supposedly, the son of the guy I mentioned in point 1 but I guess that could be kayfabe – if you believe in such a thing.

8. Two guys just fought but, this time, the ring was surrounded by chain-link fence. The cooler (he has a lip piercing so, obviously, he’s cooler) of these two fellows was fueled by the rage caused by the fact his brother was further hurt when attempting to make his comeback.

Now – if all of those fun facts don’t make you want to tune in next Monday (or watch Melrose Place … or grow a beard … or toss a midget) than you just aren’t a red blooded American. Ya’ know – like me.

Oh, that and Chris Jericho is here to save you from Randy Orton – who may or may not be some kinda robot. SaveUs.Y2J. Save us.

Adjective + Tree

I live in your average Florida subdivision. Some builder found a nice plot of swamp land in the middle of nowhere, bought it on the cheap and dropped seven hundred and fifty thousand houses from airplanes – most narrowly missing each other upon landing. Or maybe there are seeds. Either way, a subdivision was born and when something is born a label should be slapped on as quickly as possible. My subdivision is named utilizing the most common subdivision naming convention – Adjective + Tree. This can produce some fun names like Majestic Palms, Prickly Pines or Haunted Cypress but it’s a little known fact that you get bonus points (to be redeemed in the hearts and minds of your future residents) if you use Oak as the tree. After all, what’s sturdier than an Oak? Not the ecology of the Florida swamp land, I promise you that!

I won’t even start with my fanciful telling of how I imagine they name the streets.

Every now and then I wonder how I ended up in this master planned maze. Looking around here you’d think it was the mission of every middle class, white collar, working man and woman to end up here with their kids and SUVs. In speaking with peers and neighbors, though, I’ve found, overwhelmingly, that this is not the case. Some want to live on the water – no matter what kind of housing situation it takes. Some want to live in those organically occurring neighborhoods with houses that have character and people around that care for what they’ve built. Others wish for a life in the middle of the city. Many say they want what they had growing up. I’m one of those dreamers. I grew up in the country yet still in the heart of the Tampa Bay Area. I am – truly – the farmer’s daughter. I was raised in a little house in the middle of a lot of nothing. Groves, farms, trees – and my river. A river that ran into a Bay that emptied into a Gulf. Sun and water and dirt and trees – ATVs and long, empty stretches of road – all 20 minutes south on the Tamiami Trail of downtown Tampa. This is what I had. This is what I want – and like I mentioned it seems we all want something different than this association ruled, concrete-block box, reach-out-of-your-window-and-touch-your-neighbor, pastel and palm trees, pond-called-lakefront, gated and otherwise dictated plan that we’ve bowed to en masse. Mr. Levitt had an idea that would make him a billionaire and we all wanted the dream of having our very own single family home. So we took it however it was handed to us and now it’s the norm.

I live five minutes and five subdivisions down from where Edward Scissorhands was filmed. No joke. I’m in that deep and I’m not exactly loving it.

Oh, but here I am – the same one that typed all of the above and yet I pay over one hundred and twenty dollars a month to my home owners association – that holy group of do-gooders who decided my desired landscape curbing was a suitable shade of grey and that, yes, I may put lava rocks in my garden. I guess while I’m still here in Adjective Tree – before I make my daring escape to a place that not marketed with a catchy, nostalgia inducing name emblazoned upon a huge cement sign in front of a guard house and gate – I’ll keep paying extra to ensure that my neighbor doesn’t paint his concrete-block box fuchsia and orange. That or plant some evergreen whose adjective we’d all disapprove of.